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II. PROTO-BULGARIAN RUNIC INSCRIPTIONS

8. The Proto-Bulgarian Inscriptions from Old (Kubrat) Bulgaria and from the area of the Imeon mountains

Of special importance for the correct interpretation of Proto-Bulgarian inscriptions is the fact that similar inscriptions were found in the areas of the former Kubrat Bulgaria. They appear in every big centre, settled by the Proto-Bulgarians, and they cover a large area between the central courses of Don and Kuban rivers. Supplements 4 and 5 contain all finds of this type. Here are some particularly characteristic examples:


 
In the first of the three inscriptions discovered in Sarkel, at the river Don (see Supplement 4, inscription 1), practically all characters have counterparts from the Proto-Bulgarian inscription from Bulgaria. The second character coincides with the Proto-Bulgarian character in the inscriptions from Krepcha and Ravna, the rest are still better known - similar characters frequently occur in the inscriptions from Murfatlar and Pliska. But the most interesting in this inscription is probably the character, which resembles the Cyrillic letter SHT (). It is the earliest example of the use of a character of this type. As the inscriptions from Ukraine and North Caucasus are older than those from Bulgaria, it can be assumed that they represent an archaic version of the Proto-Bulgarian writing. But the history of the Proto-Bulgarian bibliography does not end with these finds from former Kubrat Bulgaria.

A particularly old inscription of this type was discovered near Imeon, it contains only six characters:

Although short this inscription is nevertheless indicative and has priority in the study of the Proto-Bulgarian alphabet. All its characters have parallels both from Kubrat Bulgaria and from the territory of Bulgaria. Especially the first, fourth, fifth and sixth character have close analogies in Kubrat Bulgaria and in our lands. The Proto-Bulgarian alphabet has very old traditions, its old character alphabet is confirmed by the fact that in Kubrat Bulgaria writings of that type are to be found on various articles - weapons, amphorae, water jugs, and even spindles:

The first inscriptions is written in old Bulgarian runic characters, the other one, containing both runic characters (for example the first character) and Greek letters, reads quite clearly: OI ANDET E (see V. Drachuk, On the road of the millennia, Moscow, 1971, S, 223). (The Greek letter H (eta) was read in very early times as E, only later it became to express I. Therefore the inscription  must be read not as OI ANDET I, but OI ANDET E). It can be translated with the help of the eastern Iranian languages as "MY DEAREST THIS SPINDLE". On another spin weight, likewise discovered by V. Drachuk (Op.cit., p. 223), is written with Proto-Bulgarian characters the following expression "OF KUJA THE SPINDLE".


 
It is interesting that the letter ZH ()is written in the same way as in Murfatlar. The letter E is similar to that from Murfatlar as well as to that from the monogram of Kubrat.

These assorted finds point out that the runic writing was used not only in the spiritual but in the everyday life as well. There were other people, besides the priests and the clerks, who knew and used this writing.

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